Jalapeño Pepper Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Jalapeno poppers

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Jalapeño peppers can spice up almost any dish. This variety of hot pepper is generally harvested and sold when it is a glossy dark green, but it turns red as it matures. Jalapeños are just one of many types of chili peppers that are often used as an accent or garnish to add heat to a dish. Although they are usually eaten in quantities too small to provide a significant amount of nutrition, these peppers are a good source of vitamins A and C.

Jalapeño Pepper Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one (14g) jalapeño pepper.

  • Calories: 4
  • Fat: 0.05g
  • Sodium: 0.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.5g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Sugars: 0.6g
  • Protein: 0.1g

Carbs

As with most non-starchy vegetables, there is no scientific study of the glycemic index of jalapeño peppers. Since they contain so little carbohydrate, they can't be tested with the standard GI methodology.

Glycemic load also factors in the serving size of the food when determining the value. With just 6 grams of carbs in a generous 1-cup serving (much more than would typically be eaten in one sitting), jalapeño peppers have an extremely low glycemic load, meaning that they don't raise your blood sugar level swiftly or provoke an insulin response.

Fat

Jalapeño peppers have just a trace amount of fat, mostly unsaturated.

Protein

These hot peppers are not a good source of protein, with less than a gram of protein in a full cup of sliced jalapeños.

Vitamins and Minerals

Although most people don't eat enough jalapeño peppers to make a significant dent in their nutritional needs, just one pepper contains about 16 milligrams of vitamin C, about 18% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This vitamin is important to many essential functions, including wound healing and immune function, and must be acquired through diet.

Jalapeños are a good source of vitamin A, which supports skin and eye health. In 1/4 cup sliced jalapeño peppers, you'll get about 8% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A for men and 12% for women. Jalapeños are also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin K, and vitamin E.

Health Benefits 

Many health benefits have been attributed to capsaicin (the substance that puts the "hot" in hot peppers), including alleviating pain and itching by inhibiting a key neuropeptide that transmits signals to the brain.

Relieves Pain

Research shows that capsaicin (typically supplements or topical preparations) can relieve nerve and joint pain.

May Lower Risk of Heart Disease

A small study of people with low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, who are at risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), showed that capsaicin supplements improved risk factors for CHD.

Reduces Inflammation

The vitamin C in jalapeño peppers acts as an antioxidant, which means it can repair cells damaged by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Inflammation and stress in the body can contribute to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and some cancers.

Allergies

Hot peppers are related to sweet (or bell) peppers and are members of the nightshade family. Allergies to these foods is possible, but quite rare. Sometimes people with pollen allergies have a cross-reaction to raw fruits and vegetables, including different types of peppers.

The capsaicin in jalapeño and other hot peppers can irritate skin and especially eyes, even in people without any allergies. To prevent this, wear gloves when you handle hot peppers, and avoid touching your face. Wash your hands, utensils, and work surface carefully when you are finished.

Adverse Effects

Eaten fresh, jalapeño peppers can have varying levels of spiciness as measured on the Scoville scale, an empirical measurement of the pungency of chili peppers. They range from 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville units. That puts jalapeños far below many other hot peppers, but still too spicy for those who stick to mild foods.

Varieties

Jalapeños are just one variety of hot pepper. They can be consumed raw, pickled, canned, or smoked. Smoked jalapeños are known as chipotle peppers, and they are hotter than fresh or canned jalapeños because they are dried and treated.

When They're Best

Jalapeño peppers are a summer crop in cooler climates but are grown year-round in some places and are typically available in supermarkets at any time. You'll find fresh jalapeños in the produce section and jarred or canned versions with pickles and other condiments, or with Mexican specialty foods.

Storage and Food Safety

You can store fresh jalapeños at room temperature for a few days, or in the refrigerator for about a week. Once you've opened a jar of peppers, keep it in the refrigerator. If you have an open can of peppers, transfer to a glass or plastic container for storage in the refrigerator. You can also freeze peppers after preparing by cutting off the stems and scooping out the seeds. Frozen jalapeños are best used within 6 months for the best quality, but can be kept frozen for much longer.

How to Prepare

Removing the seeds from jalapeños can help tame the heat, as they are hotter than the flesh of the pepper. Jalapeños can be eaten whole or sliced and added to salads, marinades, salsa, or cheeses. Some people even add jalapeños to smoothies for an interesting kick. They are common in Mexican dishes but can be used in any recipe that calls for hot peppers (if their level of heat is right for you).

Recipes

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Article Sources
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